Qiana Canete’s newcomer title didn’t last long.
Copperas Cove volleyball coach Cari Lowery started the Lady Dawgs’ 2012 season in the spring believing, like she always does, that this year was going to be her best ever (even if Cove did graduate standout Amy Rosenbaum in May).
“At the beginning, I didn’t really know what we were going to do because we were all new to the team,” said Canete, the District 12-5A Newcomer of the Year in 2011. “Then, the farther we started to go, I started to realize, ‘Yeah, this is it. I know we’re going to get far.’”
Canete embraced the pressure of being the Lady Dawgs’ leader and this season was indeed their best ever.
The Lady Dawgs won a program-record 23 straight matches, including their first district title in school history, and finished 38-8 overall following Canete, the 2012 KDHPressbox.com All-Area Volleyball MVP.
“A lot of pressure actually came into this year from last year,” Canete said. “I knew I had to step up even more than I did last year. It was really hard, but I worked my way through it a little bit.”
Canete totaled 453 kills, 234 blocks and 284 digs this season and was District 8-5A’s MVP, to become Cove’s second straight volleyball all-district MVP. And the middle blocker is only a junior who knows she still has plenty of room for improvement, especially in her defensive and serve-receive games.
“Q has a lot of God-given, natural ability, but she is a very versatile player and she’s real aggressive,” Lowery said. “Sometimes, with girls, you have to teach aggressiveness, you have to teach that killer instinct and Q has it. ... She has a lot of that innate ‘I want to be great’ in her and, really, that makes a difference.”
And Canete wasn’t the only one.
Sophomore setter Makayla Blount earned All-Area Newcomer of the Year recognition.
Replacing a player like Rosenbaum, a setter who was the 2011 All-Area MVP and who’s now a freshman at Baylor, isn’t easy, but Blount managed well enough in the wake of her predecessor’s success.
She was second on the team with 520 assists, posted a team third-best 95 blocks and was recognized as being yet another up-and-coming Cove star as the 8-5A Newcomer of the Year. Senior Ariell Garcia led the team with 711 assists.
“Amy was a big factor to the team last year and we knew our setters were really going to have to step up and work really hard this year,” Canete said. “I think they did a really good job replacing her as a whole.”
While the Lady Dawgs’ season was probably more successful than many thought it would be, Belton’s definitely was.
A season after finishing with just five wins total — one in district — the Belton Lady Tigers pulled a complete U-turn by starting the season with 11 wins in their first 16 games and finished the season in the playoffs.
The Lady Tigers were not district champions, nor did they win even a single game against heavily favored Cedar Hill in the 5A playoffs.
But the fact that they were there, in Stacy Meyers’ first year as the Belton head coach, was remarkable following last year’s 5-31 season.
The Lady Tigers were 25-14 in 2012 and Meyers was an easy choice for the KDHPressbox.com All-Area volleyball Coach of the Year.
All-Area Volleyball First Team
- Maggie Kramer, Belton — The senior was a first-team All-District 8-5A selection after helping the Lady Tigers rebound from a one-win district season in 2011 to a playoff appearance in 2012.
- Brittney Johnson, Copperas Cove — The first-team All-District 8-5A senior outside hitter powered the district champions with her all-around game, leading the Lady Dawgs with 475 digs, finishing fourth on the team with 222 kills to go along with 58 blocks and 24 aces.
- Megan Chambers, Gatesville — The senior libero was named a Texas Girls Coaches Association’s Class 3A All-State selection Monday after earning District 8-3A defensive player of the year honors with 151 digs and completing 82 percent of her passes.
- Ashley Cook, Gatesville — The senior outside hitter was also a TGCA 3A All-State selection and was the District 8-3A Offensive Player of the Year after leading the Hornets with 219 kills.
- Anjane Janda, Harker Heights — The District 8-5A most valuable hitter led Heights (35-7) with a single-season school record 267 kills to go along with 22 blocks, 180 digs and a team-high 17 aces as the Lady Knights’ biggest offensive threat.
- Kathleen Janda, Harker Heights — Making her first varsity appearance this year as a junior middle blocker, the taller (6-foot-3) but younger Janda sister impacted the Lady Knights from day one, finishing with a team-high 85 blocks to go along with 170 kills and 10 aces.
- Katie Schulte, Harker Heights — Named the District 8-5A setter of the year, the senior set the pace for the Lady Knights with a school-record-shattering 811 assists and 16 aces, all helping Heights secure its first playoff berth since 2006 as 8-5A runner-ups.
- Kinzie Williams, Jr., Belton
- Kaitlyn Shearer, Sr., Ellison
- Paige Chambers, Sr., Gatesville
- Lauren Nichols, Sr., Gatesville
- Esha Atkins, Sr., Killeen
- Jenna Franz, Sr., Salado
- Tearra Roberson, Sr., Shoemaker